THE frosty welcome the United States navy has received this week in the Balearics has done little to improve relations between the two parties which have been strained since the massive protest mounted in the bay of Palma when the aircraft carrier USS Washington visited Palma two years ago. Since the Balearic government-backed protests on land and at sea against the Washington the Sixth Fleet once a warmly welcomed regular visitor to Palma has stayed away, costing local businesses millions of euros. The crews on board a visiting United States aircraft carrier used to spend an average of one million euros per visit. In view of Saturday's anti-war protest, it will come as no surprise if the USS Oscar Austin, due to end her visit to Palma, sets sail a little earlier than scheduled. It will also come as no surprise if the United States navy gives the Balearics a wide berth from now on, opting for ports such as Tarragona on the mainland which has expanded its facilities to cater for the US navy. The Balearic Port Authority has ironically met the United States's State Department's new port security demands and tightened security around visiting United States war ships as required with land and sea anti-terrorist patrols. After the visit of the USS Jacinto, now within striking distance of Iraq in the Mediterranean with the USS Harry S. Truman battle group, at the end of last year, the US authorities were reported to have been impressed with security measures and co-operation in Palma.